65GRAND is excited to present "Going To Bed Angry", David Leggett's second solo exhibition with the gallery.
The early 1990's saw the end of Apartheid in South Africa and coincidentally the debut of an animated prime time television show called The Simpsons. Kente cloth, African medallions and anything referencing South Africa became fashionable, notes Leggett. At the same time knockoff Bart Simpson merchandise flourished. This led to the bizarre confluence of the two in the form of Black Bart, who appeared on t-shirts sporting a Bulls Michael Jordan jersey or professing his love for Nelson Mandela. Leggett explains, "I had a Black Bart bootleg shirt as a kid. To have one in the hood was high fashion. I wore it until it was a rag." Those fads died out quickly but the practice of appropriating the aesthetics of activism and the urge to gesture symbolically in dress rather than make actual change persists. "'Underachiever' and proud of it, man!" as Bart proclaimed.
This is just one example of the problematic and compelling ways images from popular culture mix. David Leggett is interested in contrasting and colliding images in order to create new meanings. Often humorous and brilliantly acid-tongued, Leggett's paintings, drawings and prints target all aspects of contemporary life. From celebrities to art history, personal to political, the artist brings all the contradictions of life together, but never in a way that seeks resolution. We laugh with Leggett but also wince when we identify with the pain and honesty he shares.
A small silvery canvas sports googly eyes, skulls and spiderwebs. At the bottom right, in grade school handwriting it says, "The Struggle 14." "That seems about right," we think, realizing that this encapsulates the things we're going through much better than a large Expressionist painting could.
David Leggett lives and works in Chicago, IL. Recent solo exhibitions include Coco River Fudge Street, the Hyde Park Art Center and It's getting to the point where nobody respects the dead. Fresh to death, Western Exhibitions, both in Chicago in 2012; and Up for the Down Stroke, 65GRAND, 2010. Selected group exhibitions include: Poems in A Room, Magic Pictures, Philadelphia, 2014; Whisper Down the Lane, Gallery 400, Chicago, (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man, Tracy Williams, Ltd., New York and Squirts, Regina Rex, Queens, NY, all in in 2013; Afterimage, DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, 2012; and Museum as Hub: Alpha's bet is not over yet!, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2011. Leggett has been written about in Artforum, ArtSlant, Beautiful Decay, the Chicago Tribune, Hyperallergic, and The New Yorker. In 2010 Leggett attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture with a Fellowship and the Rauschenberg Residency in 2013. Leggett received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his BFA from the Savannah College of Art & Design.